Monthly Archives: December 2017

Lincoln – The Reluctant Emancipator

LincolnIn this new book, academic Fred Kaplan argues that Abraham Lincoln did not make a major contribution to solving the American race problem – he left the U.S. with it.  Tracing Lincoln’s political history from the 1830s to his assassination in 1865, the iconic Lincoln is seen as cautious time and time again about closing the gap between moral idealism and political reality in the elimination of slavery.

Lincoln abhorred slavery and thought it was an abomination.  However he was not an abolitionist.  Rather he foresaw that the two races – black and white – could never live alongside each other.  Hence for him, the solution was voluntary and government assisted emigration of blacks to a new home in Africa or Latin America. Both races would be better off.  Slavery would then end of itself at some future date.  Was Lincoln right?

At the start of the US Civil War in 1861, there were about two hundred thousand free blacks in the North and at least 4 million black slaves in the Confederacy.  Lincoln’s new Republican Party in the 1860 presidential campaign made non-extension of slavery to the territories and preservation of the United States it’s two main lines in the sand.  Before Lincoln was elected however, the South could not accept the first line resulting in its secession.  After the election, the North could not accept slave states secession thus leading to the U.S. Civil War – and the death of at least 700,000 young Americans.  If the Union had accepted peaceful separation of slave states, the country would have been diminished for sure, but slavery would have ended peacefully, at least in the north.

George B

Kaplan goes on the argue that Lincoln wasted the first two years of the Civil War by sticking with Gen George B. McClellan as Chief Army Commander.  McClellan, a superb organizer, was reluctant to attack the south because he wanted to leave slavery and the South alone so as to preserve integrity of the country.  He ran against Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election on a platform of negotiating peace but lost.  Was McClellan right?

In 1863, Lincoln reluctantly issued the Emancipation Proclamation only after having first offered the Confederacy the right of continued constitutionally protected slavery in existing slave states, if they would only first return to the Union.  Furthermore, for his continued political support, the proclamation did not apply in the border slave states that had not seceded like Missouri, Kentucky and Maryland.  The proclamation was a propaganda document to aid in the Union war effort, only after Lincoln had pleaded with the Confederacy for an alternate solution that preserved slavery says Kaplan.

John Q

Kaplan’s thesis is centred on the fact that Lincoln was a long-term supporter of the policies of the American Colonization Society whose goal was not abolition of slavery, but voluntary emigration of free blacks from America.  He contrasts this gradualist approach with that of John Quincy Adams (6th U.S. President and prominent statesman) who was an Abolitionist – willing to advocate whatever political action was necessary to immediately end slavery.

Lincoln did go on to abolish slavery with the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in January 1865.  But says Kaplan, this had now become politically necessary to restore unity – Lincoln’s first love.

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 immortalized him as the Great Emancipator and most iconic person in American history.  Kaplan dares to question some of his thinking.  I found this book refreshing but somewhat disturbing and also repetitive in its prose in places.  Politicians aren’t perfect it seems, even good old Abraham Lincoln.



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Merry Christmas


The Twenty-fifth Day of December,/ when ages beyond number had run their course/ from the creation of the world,/ when God in the beginning created heaven and earth,/ and formed man in his own likeness;/ when century upon century had passed/ since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood,/ as a sign of covenant and peace;/ in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith,/ came out of Ur of the Chaldees;/ in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses/ in the Exodus from Egypt;/ around the thousandth year since David was anointed King;/ in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel;/ in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;/ in the year seven hundred and fifty-two/ since the foundation of the City of Rome;/ in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus,/ the whole world being at peace,/ Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,/ desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence,/ was conceived by the Holy Spirit,/ and when nine months had passed since his conception,/ was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah, and was made man:

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Merry Christmas


David and Marie




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Final Sea Daze

As mentioned in our last post, there were no more island visits to come.  But alas, 2 more sea daze remain.  This is the last posting about this cruise – honest, lol!


The Spa Pool

We head for home in Florida – 1100 nautical miles to go.  Lobster tail night in the MDR preceded by a wine tasting.  It’s a great party and our new table mates from FL and SC are very nice. We have so great a day that we are happy to rest up on our last day at sea. We sail past the tiny Salvador island which was Columbus first landfall in Oct 1492. After 12 days we too are ready for landfall.


Martini Bar

Likes about this Celebrity cruise:
– service impeccable
– quality of the food superb
– ship facilities and functioning fantastic
– passengers nice
– classic drinks package worth it (no need to upgrade to premium)
– embarking/debarking smooth
– history enrichment lectures

Porch Seafood Restaurant

– no towel animals (minor, lol)
‎- rounded corners at end of bed (shortens bed)
– some busy times‎ on elevator
– somewhat thin face clothes
– no jazz or country music‎ (same 80s sound all the time)
– no worship services on board
Note we did not do any organized excursions, frequent the casino, play trivia etc. ‎Favorite spot on the Silhouette is the spa pool – large window covered area with huge pool, boutique restaurant, soft music and hot tubs.  Also the Martini Bar at night was real fun.  Our midships cabin was restful and quiet.  Very little rocking of ship noticed.
Ratings out of 5:
Food 4.5 (There is an up-charge for specialty restaurants so we only went to 1)
Service 5.0
Ship 4.5
Destinations 3.0
Entertainment 4.0
Cabin 4.5
Overall 4.5
Would we recommend Celebrity? – yes.
…Now back to reality.  Thank you for following our escapades on this wonderful Caribbean cruise.  Merry Christmas!

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Martinique – St. Kitts

You will be very happy to know these are the last 2 islands we visited on this cruise that we will be writing about…


Martinique is a large island and Forte-de-France is a large city with sprawling suburbs of stately white apartment buildings. Ici en Martinique, on parle français parce que nous sommes en France.‎  Reminiscent of South American port cities, there is a large port area and we are birthed in the industrial area. We walk into the downtown core. No one is hawking anything and we enjoy the peace of it all. We stroll along the waterfront boulevard lined with clothing, perfume and shoe stores. We visit the large cathedral full of tourists and light candles for Dave’s deceased cousin Claudia and for her daughter Louise who both died prematurely last month. We do some shopping and head to the Fort on the hill. It is Monday and it is closed today – darn. No beach today either. We head back to the ship and rest up before catching a wonderful singer from Las Vegas – Savannah Smith. She sings a whole bunch of great songs like Bonnie Rait’s sorrowful “I can’t make you love me”- best show we have seen so far.

There is a link to Canada.  After the Seven Years War known as the French and Indian War in North America (1754-63), France attached little value to its North American possessions.  When the British asked France what they wanted to retain, New France or the islands – Martinique, Guadalupe and St Lucia, they chose these highly profitable sugar-producing islands as part of the terms of the Treaty of Paris.  For France, however, the military defeat and the financial burden of the war weakened their monarchy and contributed to the advent of the French Revolution in 1789.


St Kitt’s by contrast is one of the smallest islands in the West Indies with a large volcanic shaped peak at its centre. We venture off and find the best shopping yet at the lowest prices. I pick up a lovely water colour painting of the local Catholic church. Marie some perfume for Michelle. ‎Ball caps are 3 for $10. Look out Tim and Kyle! We chat with some friendly sales clerks. There is a large group of young children all dressed in colourful uniforms from a nursery school. We feel beached and islanded out at this point so head back on board for a lazy afternoon.


Pulling away from St. Kitts

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We have been here before and this time plan to go to a beach. But first we head to St Patrick’s Cathedral for Mass on the 1st Sunday of Advent.  It is a handsome limestone building with beautiful purple and pink stained glass and warm dark wood inner ceiling. It’s in good shape. We arrive early and the man at the door in a wheelchair says welcome back. We see that the pastor Fr. Charles Dominique is a Dominican. We expect to be in for a good homily.
As we wait for Mass to start we nod to a few other passengers here and the church fills up. A pigeon (or is it a dove?) flies through one open window over the altar and out another.  It’s a young crowd with plenty of youth and children. There is a smallish choir made up of young women and men.  There is a group of VIP visitors upfront with someone taking photos of them. The Mass proceeds. Fr Dominique is a high energy preacher with a great sense of humour.  ‎90 minutes later the celebration ends. Fr Gives a 30 min homily to be watchful and ready while waiting for the coming Kingdom of God made incarnate in Jesus Christ’s birth, spiced up with jokes about daily happenings and being stopped by the police for a bumper sticker. At the end, he asks all the visitors to stand and we are thanked for coming. We sing happy birthday to a few people. He let’s the VIPs rep address us (Crédit Union League 60th anniversary). It was a great if long celebration.
We walk a few blocks and cross the street. I look the wrong way (they drive on the left here) but survive it.  We hit the beach on Carlisle Bay for a few hours. Bigger waves‎ and sand whiter. It’s very hot and crowded. We walk into downtown which is quiet and take a cab home with a freindly driver. Not as inviting as Grenada but another good experience for sure.

Barbados was the centre of the sugar trade in the 17th and 18th centuries. Rich English bought up all the land. They brought in slaves from Africa, sent sugar to New England and then rum to Africa for more slaves‎. In 1700 Barbados generated more trade than all other British colonies combined!! There was a slave rebellion at one point that was eventually extinguished. The slave trade ended in the early 1800s but not slavery itself for sometime after. It was not until 1951 that universal suffrage was proclaimed and independence in 1971 I think. Bit of a bleak history here.



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For some reason have always wanted to come here known as the spice island for its nutmeg and mace. First impressions are good. St George’s does not look overly commercialized, but in relatively good shape that time has passed it by a bit. White, pink and yellow buildings with red tile roofs. I can here a man’s voice, I think he is singing. The crow of roosters can be heard. A church bell chimes, then another one. Multiple steep pointed hills ‎covered in green. They had a major hurricane in 2004 and the island was flattened. They have rebuilt it since then.

In 1979 a Marxist-Leninist goverment under Maurice Bishop was established here after a coup. In 1983 an even more hard core communist government was established after another coup. The U.S. under Regan invaded Grenada and ousted the communists after 7 weeks. The invasion was strongly condemmed by the U.N.. No visible evidence of any of this now.

We take a water taxi to ‎Grand Anse Beach. It’s a 2 mile stretch of blond sand, quiet clear waters – indeed one of the nicest beaches in the Caribbean. We spend the heart of the day walking the beach and swimming. We do some shopping and after take a local bus back. What a ride with music and the horn blaring all the way! The young man on board tells me they are very development oriented. If you keep positive, stay out of trouble, things work out for you here. Everyone seems vey happy, friendly and calm. This is our best day yet!

Marie buys some spices and I a shirt. We meet a little boy named O’Rian who is gorgeous. As we leave a full moon comes out and the town clock strikes 6 o’clock, the start of Advent. This has to be one of the best gems of the whole trip. Thank you Lord ‎for all your gifts and blessings. Protect Grenada and it’s lovely people.

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Antigua – St Lucia

We arrive on the tiny island of Antigua not knowing what to expect. There are 3 other cruise ships already there. It’s a banner day. The island known for its public beaches is picking up business due to the hurricane flattening of nearby Dominica and St. Martin islands.

We wander up the central avenue crowded with 1000s of tourists for the day. We head to the Anglican Cathedral first founded in the 1600s. It is being restored and everything needs repair. It has been sometime since they have offered worship services here‎. God helped them restore it twice already from earthquakes damage so they will succeed again. The sidewalks here are very dangerous with huge gaps and big drops. They have open deep gutters along the side of the road for storm rain run off.

We grab a cab for what we thought was Limerez beach. 5 other people join us. We are dropped at Mystic Beach which is only 10 minutes away. Spend the day floating in the ocean and walking the beach which is beautiful. The restaurant bar we are in front off is run down. There is an abandoned house next door and nothing much else around. This island is particularly poor. As we go to leave we are told that our cab driver has sent someone else to pick us up but we think it is a scam. After chatting with him on the phone we know it’s true so we take the other cab back – $3 per person – a woman drives us with her daughter in the back who proudly announces she is in kindergarden.

I buy a St Kitts teeshirt (they don’t have any that say Antigua it seems) and Marie picks up 2 tees for the boys. We get back in time for salmon dinner and a nice chat with our table neighbours from Atlanta.

The next day we arrive in Castries, St. Lucia, a much larger island with lots of buildings and traffic. Lush green hills surround us. I am a little groggy from one too many Irish coffees last night. We walk off after lunch and do a little shopping in the local market. It’s teeming with people and it’s hot. We see a young man shouting at people, some other rough looking men and a policeman here and there. There is an air of desperation in people’s faces. I chat with a man who wants to sell me marijuana and explains there is a lot of poverty here.‎ Later in the day when it cools down, I see young children playing happily and singing. Everyone seems in a better mood as the day cools and draws to a close. I have a flash that we are all the same with the same needs and wants. As we have been here before, we do not take a tour. Have seen the Pietons (twin pointy hills) and the steamy sulphur springs already. As we sail away lights are coming on all over town except in the shanty town visible from our ship.

That night, our table mates explain the fantastic tour they went on with an ex-pat guide from Montreal. A lot of organic farming, bananas everywhere and a laid back lifestyle when you get out of Castries.

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Day 4 – At Sea

A lazy day at sea before 6 islands straight. A great day to pontificate. Is cruising a good or bad thing?

On the con side, it is aimless self indulging wandering, burning up bunker fuel, over eating and drinking, taking advantage of cheap 3rd world labour, polluting the seas etc. Just building the ship itself consumed so much energy, caused massive waste and pollution. Some passengers feel overly entitled, are rude and don’t do lineups well (not on this cruise so far). Staff working 7 mos. straight without a day off exposes social and economic disparities and promotes stereotype thinking. Secularism gone wild and it’s expensive. Some have a phobia of ships and the sea.

On the pro side, massive amounts of employment is provided for 3rd world people, particularly youth. The pay rate is sufficient to attract them and many send money home. People of all nations and races mix and see how others look and act. Money is transferred to destination ports and many people benefit economically. Guests and staff get to see beautiful parts of the world they would never otherwise see, sample ethnic foods, learn something new, fall in love Dreams are fufilled, families are having fun, busy people relax and take a break, wives don’t cook and clean. No grass or snow to tend etc. Most importantly one can wander the world and contemplate it’s beauty and mystery. Mankind is destined to wander, explore and dream (think of Cabot, Cabral, LaSalle and Columbus et al.).

In the end it’s a personal choice that more and more people seem to be choosing. This is our 14th cruise. We prefer ocean cruising as the pace is calmer and the public spaces on board are simply fantastic.

Went to the Porch out door sea food specialty restaurant – jumbo garlic shrimp, ceviche, sea bass, lobster tails, mussels, ‎scallops – as much as we could eat washed down with as much Spanish bodega white wine as we could drink. Probably the best seafood meal we have ever eaten. Our waitress Olena from Ukraine kept urging us to have more. The restaurant manager from Bosnia asked us twice how we were doing and explained the importance of training they do for new staff. Best dinner yet. Wow!

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Daze 2 – 3

We arrive at Coco Cay the small private island owned by RCL. There is hazy sunshine as we tender in. Have been here 10 years ago. 3 or 4 small crescent beaches with lots of chairs and beach equipment rentals. HAL’s Half Moon Cay is much nicer we think. I walk the beach while Marie reads. I see a live conch and a black sting ray. It clouds over and stays cool. We have a BBQ lunch with rose wine. Have a great conversation with Courtley from Guyana. We head back to the ship by 1:30. I hit the pool.

The only disappointments so far are the weather (not sunny yet) and the fact you can’t walk fully around the promenade deck (it’s blocked off at either end) nor sit outside on it. Many of the older ships allow you to walk a full lap right around the ship and sit out there in a deck chair close to the water. ‎ No big deal as the walking track on deck 14 is really nice.

We attend the Cruisecritic social and meet Siobahn and Rick from Pembroke and some of the ship’s officers. We are en route to Antigua having skipped Puerto Rico due to hurricane damage. We had wanted to go there to meet some Oblates and offer help.‎ We see there are dancing lessons in the lobby and make a note for tomorrow. The sun comes out at noon and we hit the pool deck.

Dinner of duck and lamb and wine. Followed by the show of dancers amd singers and a stand up comedian. So so. We hit bed exhausted again.

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